Committee Leadership Celebrate Final Passage of Supporting Older Americans Act

WASHINGTON – Today, the House unanimously passed the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 (H.R. 4334), a bipartisan proposal that increases funding for vital programs that help aging Americans live independently and with dignity. The legislation – which passed the Senate last week – reauthorizes the Older Americans Act (OAA), the primary legislation that covers social and nutrition services for older Americans and their caregivers.

The OAA serves roughly 11 million older Americans every year, including three million older Americans who regularly rely on OAA programs to meet their basic needs. The Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 responds to the challenges facing a growing generation of aging Americans by providing a 35 percent total increase in funding for OAA programs over five years.

“The investments we make through this legislation will save us money in the future.  OAA services allow older Americans to delay or altogether avoid costlier care by promoting healthy behaviors and providing critical supportive services.  The bill not only funds OAA programs at record levels, it also focuses on the vital role of family caregivers as well as direct care workers. As the number of older Americans continues to increase, this bill is an opportunity for us to strengthen essential services that allow millions of Americans across the country to age independently and with dignity,” said Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott.

“We have a responsibility to care for the seniors who have cared for us. I have led this important update to the Older Americans Act for more than a year, and I’m thrilled that today the House is sending our legislation to be signed into law. The Older Americans Act will directly improve the lives of millions of older individuals and their families by strengthening several important programs and services, increasing outreach to underserved populations, providing added support to family caregivers, and more. It will also strengthen the aging network's response to public health emergencies and emerging health threats. I thank Chairman Scott for his leadership in helping to pass the bill in the committee and on the House floor, and I appreciate the support of each of my colleagues who helped make this bipartisan effort a success,” said Chairwoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services. 

“I'm so pleased that both chambers and both parties in Congress understand the importance of the Older Americans Act, which funds dozens of critical programs that senior citizens rely on every day. From Meals on Wheels and family caregiver support to legal services and transportation, the Older Americans Act saves lives and improves older Americans’ quality of life. It also helps seniors avoid hospitalization or long-term financial and medical difficulties. These vital programs need to be updated to better serve our growing senior population, and that's exactly what this bill does. Not just that, but the passage of this bill through both chambers of Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support shows that Congress has the ability to rise above partisanship and solve real problems for the American people. I urge the President to join us and sign the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 into law to help millions of older Americans," said Representative Susie Lee (NV-03).  

“Individuals over the age of 55 have the most alarming rate of suicide -- this issue is personal to me and in light of my own loss, I have called for the creation of a stigma-free environment to mental health care. In order for us to create that environment and save lives, we must first ensure that people have easy access to suicide prevention and mental health services and programs, especially those with chronic pain. That’s why I was so proud to have my amendment included in the final passage of the Older Americans Act Reauthorization, to ensure that we screen for suicide risk and work to holistically improve the health of our seniors,” said Representative Susan Wild (PA-07). 

“The Supporting Older Americans Act honors our nation’s commitment to older Americans and their caregivers nationwide,” said Bill Sweeney, AARP Senior Vice President for Government Affairs. “For decades OAA has provided support for our loved ones to live independently and with dignity as they age—through services including support for family caregivers, Meals on Wheels, and transportation. AARP applauds the bipartisan, bicameral leadership to reauthorize this critical legislation which will build on the legacy of OAA.”

Specifically, the Supporting Older Americans Act:

  • Authorizes a seven percent funding increase for OAA programs in the first year, then annual six percent increases in the following years;
  • Establishes a National Research, Demonstration, and Evaluation Center for the Aging Network in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of HHS;
  • Call for a study on the coordination of federal resources to promote the independence and safety of adults living at home as they age;
  • Provides more tailored support to family caregivers who play a vital role in helping aging Americans maintain their independence; and
  • Puts a stronger focus on addressing social isolation among seniors by empowering local organizations to test local solutions.

To read the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 bill text, click here.


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